Sports

Jacks Host SIU In Battle Of Top Ten Teams

Brookings, South Dakota — The South Dakota State University football team opens a gauntlet of home games against Missouri Valley Football Conference opponents Saturday by hosting Southern Illinois in a battle between nationally ranked teams.

Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. The game is scheduled to be televised by Midco Sports and also available online at GoJacks.com/watch and through ESPN+.

SIU enters Saturday’s game with a 4-1 overall record and tied atop the MVFC with a 2-0 mark in league play after holding off Western Illinois for a 31-30 overtime win last week. The Salukis are ranked seventh by the Football Championship Subdivision coaches and eighth in the Stats Perform media poll.

South Dakota State, meanwhile, is off to its first 4-0 start since 2000 after surging past Dixie State, 55-7, in home action last week. The Jackrabbits, ranked second by the media and third by the coaches, are 1-0 in MVFC play after recording a 44-0 road shutout at Indiana State on Sept. 25.

All four of the Jackrabbits’ home league games are against teams currently ranked in the top 15 of a major FCS poll.

Saturday’s game marks the 13th meeting on the gridiron between SDSU and Southern Illinois, but the third time in less than seven months that the two squads have played each other.

In a series that dates back to when the Jackrabbits joined the Missouri Valley Football Conference at the start of the 2008 season, South Dakota State holds a 9-3 series advantage. The Jackrabbits have won each of the last six meetings and nine of the last 10.

SDSU swept the season series from SIU during the pandemic-altered 2020-21 season in completely different fashion. In the first matchup, March 20 in Carbondale, Illinois, South Dakota State rushed for nearly 400 yards and turned four Southern Illinois turnovers into 24 points as the Jackrabbits steamrolled their way to a 44-3 victory at Saluki Stadium.

Freshman running back Isaiah Davis, starting in place of an injured Pierre Strong, Jr., rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, while SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski also topped the 100-yard mark on the ground with 103 yards and a pair of scores among his 13 carries.

The two squads met again in the quarterfinals of the FCS?playoffs May 2 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, with SDSU rallying for a 31-26 victory. The Salukis led 20-7 late in the second quarter, before the Jacks took the momentum back with a field goal by Cole Frahm to end the first half and further responded with three second-half touchdowns.

Gronowski’s 67-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter gave SDSU the lead for good, and the Jackrabbits’ Michael Griffin sealed the victory with an interception in the closing seconds to thwart a comeback bid by Southern Illinois.

SIU won each of the first two meetings between the two squads, with its last win in the series a 27-24 Hobo Day victory on Oct. 5, 2013, at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.

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